Emily Murphy, the administrator of the General Services Administration, said the transition between US President Donald Trump and US President-elect Joe Biden can begin, releasing millions of dollars in funds and clearing the way for a new administration.
“I have dedicated much of my adult life to public service, and I have always strived to do what is right,” Murphy wrote in a letter to Biden on Monday. “Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and the available facts. I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official — including those who work at the White House or GSA — with regard to the substance or timing of my decision.”
Trump thanked Murphy for her work just moments later.
Biden’s campaign released a statement shortly after Murphy’s announcement, calling the decision a “needed step to begin tackling the challenges facing our nation, including getting the pandemic under control and our economy back on track.”
“This final decision is a definitive administrative action to formally begin the transition process with federal agencies,” the Biden-Harris transition executive director, Yohannes Abraham, said in a statement. “In the days ahead, transition officials will begin meeting with federal officials to discuss the pandemic response, have a full accounting of our national security interests, and gain complete understanding of the Trump administration’s efforts to hollow out government agencies.”
The president noted on Twitter that while he still planned to fight the outcome of the election, he agreed the transition should begin “in the best interest of our country.”
“I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same,” he wrote.
The move will make $6.3 million available to Biden and his team to begin the transition process, as well as additional funds to prepare his staff and appointees.
Murphy had drawn widespread ire over her delay in “ascertaining” that Biden won the election, which is required before millions of dollars in transition funds and access to government officials can begin. She said, however, that Trump’s bevy of court losses and the certification of votes in several battleground states had allowed her to determine that Biden was the likely winner of the election.
Murphy added that she received many threats amid the delay in what she called an “effort to coerce me into making this determination prematurely,” although they, too, had not influenced her decision.
“I do not think that an agency charged with improving federal procurement and property management should place itself above the constitutionally-based election process,” she wrote Monday.
Several notable figures had lambasted the Trump administration over the delay, saying any further refusal to declare Biden the winner could hamper the country’s efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, which has entered its most dangerous stage as the country beings to travel en masse before the holiday season.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said last week he was “concerned” that things hadn’t gone “smoothly” and Biden said “more people may die” if Trump kept obstructing the transfer of power.
“As my chief of staff, Ron Klain, would say … a vaccine is important. It’s of little use until you’re vaccinated,” Biden said last week upon questioning about the rollout of any coronavirus preventative. “So how do we get the vaccine, how do we get over 300 million Americans vaccinated? What’s the game plan?”
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